Friday, February 29, 2008

29 February 2008...Poll

Lest you ask where's the photo for today...look at the previous post. More of the same, only add at least 6 more inches of the white stuff.

So! We have an extra day this year! Surely there is something special to be done today. I can't think of anything, particularly, so please help me with this question.

One of my dear cousins has started chemotherapy this week. The plan is to make a pair of wool socks for him a.s.a.p. and here is my dilemma. I have a beautiful silky wool, charcoal grey for the main foot part, and I was thinking I would do something more "happy" for the legging part. The other day I had settled upon 8 other colors for a fair isle pattern with a nice red & gold braid at the very beginning. All these beautiful colors would naturally be covered by trousers, until you sit down and the colors appear.

OK, so he's a guy. Would he prefer plain, no frills socks so just bite the bullet and do a regular, ribbed pair? Or should I make the happy pair?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spring Snow

Oh, JOY! Today was my first visit to our new tea shop in town...TeaHaus! I was looking for 1001 Nights, the type my sis sent from Wichita, but alas! it was not to be. I came home with 'Arabian Nights' and tested it right away. Green and black tea/sunflower/jasmine/rose blend. Very nice, and a rather wonderful selection teas. It reminded me much of my first favorite tea shoppe House of Tea in Philadelphia.

We have once again gotten another lovely dump of snow, (photo at 7 a.m. yesterday)
but this is nothing like the up-north snow. The Leland Report
indicates that Leland, MI has had 124 inches total so far this season! DH and I can attest to that, since we worked hard to remove layer upon layer of snow, packed, melted, and heavy, from the boats.

It is about time that I report here on some progress with weaving projects. I contemplated the mint green Border Leicester/Mohair blend for several days when I hit upon using a color combination similar to those in a table cloth that I have enjoyed for years. Here is the initial wrapping:

Left to right the yarns are a natural wool boucle to be used in the weft, silk (Treenway Silks) from the stash, a teal wool from the stash, periwinkle rayon chenille, another little variegated cotton/nylon boucle originally from the Yarn Barn, a beautiful pale mint rayon (I'll call it seafoam), and the last is the handspun BL/mohair blend. I plan to use the natural bouclè and the mohair blend in the weft. Doesn't that look like SPRING?!!

So! here are the first 100 threads on the warping board. If I'm good, I will go finish up measuring out the remaining 275 yet tonight and start dressing the loom tomorrow.

Spring is coming. I know it. Yesterday's snowstorm smelled like spring. The cardinals are calling their mates every morning. More evidence (the clivias started blooming while we were away!):

And March comes on Saturday!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Postcard from LA

Dear Alice,

Just returned from Lake Ann (here's Saturday morning's sunrise shot) so there are few photos of weaving or knitting, though there has been a bit of progress on those fronts. The current knitting project is top secret, so instead I will show you the socks I knitted several years ago that always get worn on the LA Winter Adventure. This year, however, they were wet much of the time. The snow was impossibly deep, and my boots were impossibly short. We experienced more snow there than we have in all of our 22 years of winter trips to the cottage. It is a wonderful get-away, and though our winter trip does not take us to the land of sunshine and shorts, this trip always restores my soul, and I find a way to make it through the rest of winter.

Chelsea had a blast!

Now that I am back I will try to get more photos of the warp to fill you in.

Also, I did finish spinning the second 25 gms. of buffalo down last week before we left. Remarkably, it was 210 yards, whereas the first 25 gms. measured 208 yards. What a pleasant surprise!

'Til tomorrow,

p.s. Mom's Valentine socks arrived on Valentine's day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Wool Sox!

Dear Alice,

First I overslept this morning (though it was a good morning for that!) I had really wanted to finish this pair of socks since DH and I are going to LA this weekend, and I will need layers of wool! After all the little morning chores to be done, and preparation of my tea to steep, I got busy, persevered, and finished the last 2.5 inches of Nancy Bush's Spey Valley socks from Knitting on the Road.

I started these last August on the deck at the edge of Ann Lake.
The decorative rib at the top was the fun part. From there on, it was mindless, but also nit-picky, since I had to keep track of the fact that I continued the rib all the way down to the toe. On sock #2 I had a bit of ripping to do since I picked it up after several months (and knitting other socks) and began knitting merrily on my way to the heel. Imagine my shock when I went to show someone sock #1 and found that the darn rib was still going! Sigh. Mary has taught me that ripping is a good thing.

They are a lovely taupe color, and when you look at the yarn in sunlight, it is filled with reds and blues and yellows, a beautiful warm, glowing mix. The yarn is Patons Kroy, 85% washable wool, 15% nylon, 262 yards/240 metres. Fawn is the color; it may have been discontinued years ago. I want to see how they hold up, especially since I went through the heels on two pairs of socks this month. It may be time to take care of Nancy's feet for a change. ;)

It is very hard to see the interesting rib at the top, and then the Vickel braid (that might be better in a contrasting color in order to appreciate it fully). Nonetheless, here they are so that you will truly believe I have finished yet another UFO.

I started putting yarns on spools this afternoon for the next weaving project, a fabric for a spring jacket. One step at a time.

I hope your basement has been cleared of the flooding. Keep your spirits up!


Monday, February 18, 2008

February Visit

Dear Alice,

Oh, it was so good to see you today and have at least a short visit! It was a shame that ALL your Chicks couldn't be there, but Pat couldn't get away (work can sure get in the way) and it was so very nice to visit with Lois, too.

I was able to share a lot about the amazing color workshop the guild held over the weekend with Lois Bryant as our workshop leader/presenter. Her color exercises, power-point presentations and the music were wonderful. She was so organized! The exercises were fun, informative, and it was really neat to see everyone's solutions. It was also a really good time of the year to have the workshop! It was foggy grey (actually rainy/icy) on Sunday morning but everyone found a way to get there safely, and we carried on with Magical, Marvelous Color. I wish I had remembered to take the camera so that you could see the yarn wrappings that everyone came up with. Inspiring!

Rebecca stopped by this evening to pick up some beads that she is going to use on her jacket that will be featured at her Open Studio this weekend. The beaded band is something we talked a lot about last spring when we were working on ideas for the handwoven fabric jacket. I can't wait to see the end result!

I asked her to have some dinner with us, one of those quick, pantry concoctions that was really perfect for mid-February. We had a bit of leftover salmon, some grape tomatoes (the only kind with any flavor in February), pesto from the freezer, and pasta, and fresh sourdough bread that Scott & I collaborated on today, since I had to leave the bread dough in his care whilst the Chicks visited with you today. Voilà! something colorful to beat the wintry blast that has returned again this evening.

After we left you and Lois, we took a fuzz detour on the way home and stopped at the Spinning Loft in Howell, and then went on to Liz Cowdery's farm. Beth, at the Spinning Loft, has done a wonderful job of bringing in lots of beautiful fleeces, processed rovings, and luscious yarns to tempt those of us with already overflowing stashes (I think they should really be called IRA's because the stash continues to grow in value, and once properly aged, it is marvelous to rediscover something so lovely). And Liz is a master at combining color with her dyed rovings that she creates from her Romney wool and mohair! She showed us many different wool breeds and blends from the animals that are on the farm. I know we will see something beautiful come from Mary's expert spinning (BTW, she did very well at the Fleece Fair this past weekend!)

OK. I know you have been waiting to see the photo from our little visit. Here we are! Thanks so much for allowing us to stop in today. Be well until next time!

Många kramar (many hugs),

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Race to the Finish for Valentine's Day

Dear Alice,

I did it! The New England Sock, morphed, was finished up Monday evening, washed, blocked and dried, ready to pop into the mail on Tuesday. Mom may not actually get them until tomorrow, since 400 miles can translate into 3 or 4 days by post, but a letter to Sweden can be delivered in the same amount of time. Go figure!

Here are the yum-deli-icious socks!

Now it is on to other projects!

Happy Valentine's Day to all, with love,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

From Ewe to You!

Dear Alice,

Mary did a fabulous job this evening with her part in the three part presentation that was given this evening at the downtown library! Sadly, my photo of her with her handspun sweater, and her handspun, handwoven jacket (by Rebecca), and all the beautiful skeins turned out a little fuzzy in the low light.

Linda Koeppel, of Cape House Farm, was first to tell us about raising sheep and their needs and what a joy it has been since she and Bill first started their flock 18 years ago. (Linda was the creator of the Border Leicester/Mohair mint green blend that is posted Jan. 30th in this blog.) Neil Kentner filled us in on the different breeds he raises, his expertise in wool judging, and the Conservancy for Livestock breeds.
Here's Neil with some of his Jacob wool. He also raises Wensleydales.

It was a really good program, and it was great to see a good turn-out despite the temperatures. Do you think anyone noticed that at least one audience member was knitting a sock with handspun?

Jean was there...she's going to take a look at the brake on my little Macomber soon. It keeps slipping, and before I put anything else on it I want to have this nipped in the bud.

Sov gott!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Dear Alice,

Did you know that it is the International Year of the Potato? I love potatoes...and while complaints of how many times we had them in a week (when the children were small and budgets stretched thin) still ring in my ears, I love it when potatoes are on the menu! Imagine my surprise and delight when this morning I discover that Ted Kooser, former poet laureate of the US, has this gem in his little book, Valentines!

A New Potato

This is just one of the leathery eggs

the scuffed-up, dirty turtle of the moon

buried early in spring, her eyes like stars

fixed on the future, and, inside its red skin,

whiteness, like all of the moons to come,

and marvelous, buttered with light.

This, shared with the World in the CS Monitor today.

Last spring I had high hopes with the blue potatoes I planted, but was Oh! so disappointed when the squirrels, too, thought they made a lovely dinner. I lost almost half my seedling potatoes to them. A dry, droughty summer made for a final crop that was almost what I planted in number. So, I have left the potato growing to those whose focus is not fiber of the fuzzy kind, but instead pays more attention to his crops in the field.

We bought 100 pounds of potatoes at the Traverse City Farmers' Market at the end of the season. 20 lbs. of blues, 10 lbs of a nice white for smashed potatoes, 20 lbs of red-skinned, and 50 lbs of Idaho bakers. Oh! and 10 lbs of Yukon Golds. As I recall, Mr. Westmaas threw in the whites for mashing for us to test. I must put potatoes on the menu for tonight!

Snow again, but at least it has warmed up to a balmy 14°F!

I'll be checking with you later today to see how the appointment with the doctor went.

Stay warm!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Time for Hunkerin' Down

Dear Alice, and all my dear friends...T, Ellen, Mary U, Mari-Ann, Pat, Mary R, Mary S, many others, and family, too!

What a wintry blast we experienced yesterday! We survived it, though. It was a good day for working with yarn (preferably on one's lap). That, however, did not work out. Instead I had a really wonderful "lap warmer" for about an hour in the afternoon, one who didn't feel the best this week. Since the fox fur cuffs that I found in an antique shop in the UP a couple of years ago have been left out to consider what they want to become, Stewart decided they would make a good hat. One is too small for an adult hat, no matter what your head size, but they do make a pretty good-looking Eskimo hat for a sweet grandson, the best lap warmer in the world!

'Til the next time,

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Spinning, spinning, spinning

Dear Alice,

It really is time to get those warp threads chosen for the two projects I have in mind; it is so easy to dream of what they might be while I spin. I'm still working at the 15 minutes per day goal, and here is the first 25 gms. of Buffalo down! Fini! You can also see the second 25 gms., so maybe within a week I will have it all spun, washed and set! The last time I spun up 50 gms. of Buffalo down, I wove two beautiful men's scarves. I am very tempted to do exactly the same warp combination. Since I have good records, the warp would be easy to duplicate. Scarf #1 had entirely buffalo weft, scarf #2 had a mix, since it was a shadow weave. It could have been cashmere the way it felt. Yummy! I'll keep you posted on what I decide to do. In the meantime, here is the photo of the singles still on the bobbin, with the 25 gms. remaining behind. I should mention that this lovely, downey fuzz came from Wild Rose Fibres, in Canada. Wild Rose Fibres was my source a few years ago, so when an email arrived saying that they had more Buffalo Down in stock, I couldn't resist. The dollar was much better back then. Excellent service!

Sock #1 for Mom's Valentine's day present is finished, washed, and being blocked! I have about 4 more inches to go on sock #2. Here's #1!

That's all for now.


p.s. No, the sun never did shine today. :(

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Cold, Grey Days of February

Dear Alice,

It snowed again today, a sloppy, icy, rainy, messy snow until late this afternoon, when it changed to a beautiful, more wintery snow. So tomorrow, if the sun shows her face and the sky is blue:

We could use a bit of sun.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Making Progress

Dear Alice,

So nice to talk with you today, however briefly!

It occurs to me that today is Ground Hog's Day, meaning February 2nd, meaning only 12 days left until Valentine's Day! Since it was very clear that I was not going to finish those New England lace sox in Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road for Mom before Christmas, Valentine's Day became the new goal. I need to get knitting like a speed demon! especially if they need to be washed, blocked and dried before they go off in snail mail. Fortunately, they are both now beyond the picayune, lacey diamonds that march down the front of the leg. All that is left is mindless knitting, so I can do it in front of the tv, on the road, early in the morning, maybe even in church. No not in church. This was my first go at using the tiny cable needle by KA. It takes a little "getting used to" since it is only 9 inches long, and it worked well for this project since there were YO stitches, many little markers, and the fact that I was using a yarn that was really spun for weaving (no stretch at all). Ah yes, a little cashmere for pampering my dear mom's feet! Here they are from a couple of weeks ago. From here on out they will be on my favorite Bryspun plastic #2US ndls.

Earlier in January I could not stop myself from thinking about Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters, so sought out her book and it followed me home. I am totally smitten with the Coriolis sock! Of course, I did have to start with her tutorials for baby socks (no problem...there are little people in my life!). Carson got the first pair, and Caiden got my favorite Coriolis pair. I knit these with a Lion Brand merino/cashmere yarn that was found a year ago on sale. They are yummy!

No weaving, you say, Alice? There are lots of ideas dancing in my head. It is a weekend and I tend to write many, many more things on my 'to do' list than I ever accomplish. There was a new idea today as I read through Russell Groff's May, 1966 issue of Warp & Weft newsletter today at lunchtime. (Yes, I did spin for 20 minutes today. Buffalo down is in the works.) It would be so very cool if it could actually materialize before the fashion show in April this year (but of course one needs to have it ready for jurying in March.) That is a stretch!

'Tis pizza/movie night. I had best get going if I want to make that Shermane Fouchè skirt yet this weekend!

Be well!

ps. Last night would have been the first time to visit the exhibition of fiber art pieces at the Power Center. Maybe the husband will indulge me and go this evening. I put the Big Bluestem/Birch bark piece in. I'll try to get a photo of it in situ for you.